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Lychnis - Care Guide
Caring for Lychnis
Few herbaceous borders are without a representative of the Lychnis genus. The cultivated garden forms are closely related to L. flos-cuculi (ragged robin) which already grows wild in so many woodland gardens flowering in late spring or early summer.
L. x arkwrightii ‘Vesuvius’ is a clump forming perennial with attractive hairy brownish-green leaves. These make a superb contrast to the star-shaped orange scarlet flowers in cymes of five to ten individual notched flowers which appear in June and July. Not all the flowers open at once so the effect is long lasting. We have grown in alongside Lobelia cardinalis ‘Queen Victoria’ which has even darker purplish foliage and two lipped red flowers. Both grow up to around 2ft in height.
L. coronaria or rose campion is another popular garden plant especially in cottage gardens. It is an erect growing perennial with woolly silver-grey leaves and tall stems (also woolly and silvery-grey) which open out into cymes purple-red or pale wine red flower which, again, open singly over a long period of time. L. coronaria grows, with its flower stems, to about 2½ft and self-seeds itself freely in and around stone patios or pathways. In very windy spots the flower stems may need plant supports but, even if this plant does flop while flowering, it generally rights itself.
Lychnis are best propagated by division of the clumps or from basal cuttings taken in the spring. These plants are, sadly, relatively short lived so it is sensible to hedge your bets if you do not have an area for L. coronaria to self-seed itself into. L. arkwrightii does not self-seed in the same way.